Categories
Psychology

Censorship, Entropy and Mephistopheles

As a general observation on censorship, redaction and purposeful obfuscation: Information Theory indicates the extent to which strings of symbols bear useful or valuable information and this is measured by the probabilistic entropy and literal surprise of that salience. An enigma of redaction is that, while the extraction of prominent or revealing features of narrative cartography have an overall “flattening” effect, this possesses implicitly inverse, cultural and psychological entropy.

Entropy also represents the degrees of freedom or dimensionality of a material or abstract (i.e. logical) system. The removal of text by those of sufficient aptitude to ensure that inference can not reconstruct it also incurs an unexpected cost of displaced entropy, of all those entities and artefacts, actions and names which just *might* be there. Assertion is traded for uncertainty, vastly expanding the possible semantic horizons of that text.

Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” was banned, not for what it contained, but for what it did not – as he never explicitly articulated the “evil” deeds of his protagonist. It was the aggregate wickedness in a reading public’s own minds that was projected into the book. There is always a cost.

Context: John Bolton’s Book & Those Pesky Green Eyeshade Government Censors

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